Tag Archives: Stress

Chronic Conditions: Does Stress Cause Ulcers?

Stress shoulders a lot of blame for health issues like high blood pressure, fatigue and depression — and rightly so. But when it comes to causing stomach ulcers, it gets a bit of a bad rap.

The main triggers for stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers or gastric ulcers, are:

  • H. pylori infection caused by a common gut bacteria.
  • Overuse of over-the-counter pain relief medication known as NSAIDs, short for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Inflammation: How To Treat Ulcerative Colitis

Since ulcerative colitis (UC), a condition that causes inflammation in the colon and rectum, is never medically cured, certain lifestyle behaviors can help you manage symptoms and better cope with your condition. In addition to managing stress, paying attention to what you eat can have a big impact on your quality of life.

There is no single diet that works best for managing UC. In fact, no studies have shown that any specific diet improves symptoms or that any specific foods cause UC flare-ups. The best approach is to avoid or reduce the foods that aggravate your symptoms.

You should eat a well-balanced, healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, such as a Mediterranean style diet. Avoid preservatives and emulsifiers, such as carrageenan, carboxymethylcellulose, and polysorbate-80.

ATHEROSCLEROSIS: STRESS, LACK OF SLEEP & EXERCISE AND POOR DIET RAISE RISKS

Swirski acknowledged that “there is no question” that genetics play a role in cardiovascular health, but in the last several years, four risk factors — stress, sleep interruption or fragmentation, diet, and sedentary lifestyle — have been clearly identified as contributing to atherosclerosis, commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries, which can lead to a variety of complications, including death.

RESEARCH: ‘THE SCIENCE OF HEALTHY AGING’ (SCRIPPS)

Although growing older comes with a number of major life changes, science can help inform the things we do in the here in and now to forestall the most serious features of the aging self, promoting healthspan and not just lifespan.

Summer 2021
  • Build Muscle – Muscle mass is one the best predictors of health and longevity. Muscle tissue is known to release its own chemicals called myokines, which can have benefits that span cognition, immunity and anti-cancer activity. By performing regular, resistance-based exercise that prioritizes strength, we can delay the loss of bone density and risk of physical injuries.
  • Vitamin D – Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is in fact a critical hormone that helps maintain healthy bones, boost our immune system and improve our cardiovascular function. With age, the production of vitamin D in the skin can become less efficient, so if we don’t spend enough time outdoors, our risk of vitamin D deficiency may increase.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases – One of the most unsettling aspects of aging is the potential for neurodegenerative disease. These conditions are increasingly prevalent in those with diabetes, suggesting that the brain’s blood flow and energy supply may be compromised. Research indicates that regular physical exercise, a healthy whole foods diet and staying intellectually active could at least slow the rate of decline.
  • Mindfulness – As we get older, major arteries can become thicker and less flexible, leading to increased blood pressure and undue strain on the heart. A regular mindfulness practice such as yoga or meditation has been shown to stem the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. By freeing us from this “fight-or-flight” state, this habit can improve blood flow and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Stay Social – As social animals, maintaining a strong sense of community and close personal relationships into old age are underestimated contributors to longevity. While social isolation in seniors can result in significant physical and mental decline, research suggests that close loved ones offer important emotional support and behavioral modifications that can overcome periods of high stress.
  • Metabolism – “My metabolism is slowing down!” That’s what we often hear, as the aging body becomes less effective at using energy, placing us at risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. By maintaining our muscle mass and reducing sugar consumption, we can support hormonal health, preserve our metabolism and keep our vitality into those advanced years. As scientists continue to find ways to extend our lives, paying attention to these keys to healthy aging can help increase the quality of those extra years.

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DR. C’S JOURNAL: Stress & The Effects Of Cortisol

Cortisol (hydrocortisone, 17-OH-corticosterone) is produced by stress, and is a bad word these days. When I was a practicing allergist, Cortisol worked wonders with asthma, and as a salve helped my patients with eczema.

It functions in the body as a key part of the stress reaction, which preparers the animal body for “Fight or flight”.  Cortisone raises the blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar, and shuts down The immune system, which is not as necessary in times of emergency. It is this last function which helped my patients with asthma and eczema, which are diseases of excessive immune reactivity. You may have heard of the use of dexamethasone( A relative of cortisol ) in severe Covid, which is made worse by an excessive immune response.

Modern life is a pressure cooker, requiring continuous activity and deadlines. The blood Cortisone level, which is raised by stress, is helpful in the short term, but deleterious when persisting over the long term. The prolonged elevation of blood Pressure, blood sugar and heart rate, coupled with a decrease in bone and collagen formation can lead to all kinds of problems including weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis and mental decline.

Although  cortisol in the short term can enhance memory (think of flash – bulb memory), in the long run it decreases hippocampal function, impacting memory.

For these and other reasons, Modern Life makes it desirable to reduce stress and the accompanying elevation of cortisol . Our old friends, Proper sleep, diet and exercise are critical, and help activities such as laughter and yoga to reduce stress. The following reference will cover this in more detail.

—Dr. C.

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #31: COLD SORES

“Fever Blisters”, or “Cold sores” are caused by infection, almost always, with the Herpes Simplex 1 virus. Herpesvirus infestations are present in 50% of the population, usually causing little disturbance. The symptoms on first exposure depend on the Age the virus is first acquired.

NEONATAL Herpes can be extremely serious, due to the immaturity of the infant immune system. Herpes acquired in CHILDHOOD, or Primary herpetic Gingivostomatitis, can cause very dramatic FEVER, with blisters in the mouth, that lasts for a week to 10 days, causing lots of misery and hand-wringing but having a good outcome.

I had one such case early in my pediatric residency at Walter Reed Army Hospital, a young French boy named Didier Dupont. He screamed with pain, and wouldn’t eat or drink. His parents thought that he was going to die, and that I saved his life, neither of which was true. My roommate and I lived in the same housing complex as the Duponts, and enjoyed many fine french meals with them, one of the few positive events to result from an encounter with Herpes Viruses.

The first acquaintance with Herpes in ADULTHOOD produces outcomes ranging from no symptoms at all, to a flu like syndrome with mouth blisters. Many people have positive blood tests for herpes, but cannot recall any mucosal burning, blisters or pain, so Herpes can enter the body without producing memorable symptoms.

The Herpes 1 Virus gains entrance to the body through the lining of the lips, mouth or nose(or through broken skin), and travels up the local nerves to the cell body in the local Trigeminal ganglion. There it remains quietly, until some STRESS reduces the resistance, allowing it to awaken and travel back down the nerves to the “mucocutaneous junction”, where the skin thins out into the lining of the nose, mouth, or occasionally the eyes.

There it multiplies and forms painful blisters, or “cold sores”. Sunburning of the lips, a “cold”, or psychological strain are examples of the stresses that can trigger cold sores. Reduced resistance is the common factor.

The Acyclovir family of drugs is usually effective in treatment, and works by inhibiting DNA Polymerase. These oral medications can be given to curtail each episode, if cold sores are infrequent, or continuously to reduce the number of outbreaks.

Herpes 1 is a double stranded DNA Virus in a family that includes Herpes 2, Chickenpox, the EB virus of mononucleosis fame, and Cytomegalovirus, which is the bane of organ transplant recipients. A nasty Clan indeed, and very successful in evolutionary terms.

–Dr. C.